New Plants from Old

Did you know you don't always need a seed to grow a new plant? Some leaves, stems or other plant parts can become a whole new plant. Would you like to start a new plant in a new way? Here are some things for you to try.

Branches and Stems:

The most important job of a branch or stem is to hold the leaves up in the light. Stems also help connect the roots to the leaves so that water can get to the leaves and food made in the leaves can get to other parts of the plant. But some branches can be rooted very easily to make a new plant.

Try rooting a branch from pussy willow, a red-osier dogwood shrub, or from a willow tree. These usually root just by putting them in water for a couple of weeks.

You can make new plants from some house plants too. Pieces of English ivy can be rooted in water and then planted in soil. For geraniums, you can cut a 6 centimeter piece from the end of a stem. Pull off most of the leaves and put the stem in a mixture of peat moss and perlite. Water very lightly for 3 or 4 weeks. Then transplant into soil.


Potatoes are really tubers. They are underground stems which store food for the potato plant. You can cut a potato into pieces and every piece which has an "eye" will grow into a new plant if put into soil. Potato eyes are really buds.

The easiest way to see a potato grow is to put three or four toothpicks in one and rest it on top of a glass of water so a little of the potato is in the water. Leave it to sprout roots and shoots. 


Some plants grow special underground stems called bulbs. Daffodils are an example. If you carefully mark where your daffodils are in the spring, you can dig them up in the late summer. Most bulbs will have small bulbs growing attached to them. These can be gently pulled off of the main bulb and replanted. Each will become a new plant. If you never do this, the plants will become so crowded that they will not flower anymore. By dividing them, you make sure that each has enough soil, water and other resources to grow and flower.


While the main job for a leaf is to make food, some can be used to make a new plant if treated the right way. African violet and begonia leaves can be used to make new plants.

Cut the leaf stem (petiole) about 3 centimeters long, dry it off and dip it in rooting hormone. Put the leaf in a mixture of perlite and peat moss in a clean flowerpot. Put the pot in a plastic bag so it stays damp and put it where it will get light but not be in direct sunlight. A new plant will form at the base of the leaf. You can buy rooting hormone at a garden center. Be sure to follow all safety guidelines.

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